Life is unpredictable.
One day you think you're set, happy, and ready for the next step (e.g. engagement) with your significant other…
The next day, the aforementioned significant other doesn't see you as significant in his life and tells you he doesn't know what he wants. He says he doesn't want to get married simply because it was the “next step” or that it is expected of him. Basically, he admitted that he did not (and was not) ready to grow up because marriage, in his mind, meant growing up. He was not ready to commit and would not be ready in a few years. I am not ready to wait a few more years for him to decide that I was not the one for him…because you would think men would know after seven+ years of dating.
As much as I wanted to cling on, to plead him to reconsider his decision, I know there is nothing I can do except to learn from this experience and move on.
Here are a few things I learned about money, power, gender roles, and relationships through (and during) this ordeal:
Don't be his Mother
As much as I like to think all men are children who need to be taken care of (sorry guys), one of the biggest mistakes I made was acting like his mother. I was essentially the CEO of the home (or trying to be anyway) by organizing the finances, dealing with the tenants, buying groceries, ensuring dinner was ready, cleaning, and doing small repairs around the home. Basically I guess I gave off the vibe that he wasn't needed (which is true, but I guess guys don't like feeling that way, obviously!).
I was overcompensating. The more pressure I felt to try and please him, ensure that he was fed and happy (or so I thought), the more I overcompensated. Then the more he undercompensated. We tried to articulate and define and divide up the household tasks multiple times. He would sometimes not have these done in a timely manner (or to my standards I suppose) and then I would just go ahead and do them. Pretty soon I was doing everything again and burning myself out.
I also overcompensated in terms of trying to change myself, trying to change my own behaviour in order to have better conflict resolution skills. I know that behavior change takes time and effort, but the other person needs to also want to see an improvement in the relationship too, otherwise, you're just trying to climb out of quicksand by yourself.
You Need to be Whole and not Two Halves
With all the busy-ness of school, work, and house stuff, I was neglecting my own needs. I did not take the time out to care for myself and to take care of myself and my emotional and mental well-being. I wasn't taking care of myself. Since this ordeal, I have probably been in the best shape physically (and mentally) then I have ever been. Getting rid of the energy through running and yoga has been liberating and definitely a factor in heartbreak recovery.
You Can't Have a Timeline
Although it's tempting to want to control everything, to control your future, and to have a timeline of the next five years planned out… sometimes life throws you a curveball and things happen that are out of your control. One of the biggest lessons in life, in my opinion, is learning how to cope and deal when things don't happen the way you always pictured them to happen.
Super Motivated Boyfriends Need to Reach their Goals First
As Financial Samurai wrote in one of my favourite posts on super motivated boyfriends, they have goals (career or financial) they need to achieve before wanting to “settle down”. This was definitely the case. We were the same age, he did not achieve his goals yet, and had a few more years before he achieved these goals. At the end of the day, I don't think I was ready to continue to want to wait until he achieved these goals because there was no guarantee that he will still be by my side after he achieved these goals. Mind you, putting a ring on the finger isn't much of a guarantee either, but I guess its better than nothing?
Values, Values, Values…
As much as there is physical attraction and chemistry, if you have different values of what you want out of life, there may be and will always continue to be clashes. We did have different viewpoints on many things, namely money. He wanted a nice car and did not prioritize travel at the top of his list. I would rather forgo the nice car and continue driving my 12 year old car for life experiences and travel. I wanted to pay down the mortgage. He didn't.
Don't be Too Frugal with Love
And most painfully, one of the biggest lessons learned is not to be be too frugal with love. We prioritized school and other friends over each other. We would save money by not going out, by eating in, watching movies at home. Things became mundane. I wanted to go on a weekend getaway but he didn't because he wanted to save money. Sometimes when you're focused on saving money you forget to go out and enjoy what life has to offer.
Well that was cathartic. 😉
Readers, have you ever been heartbroken? What did you learn from it?